Receiving Holy Communion

It is a good thing for all of us to reflect on how to receive the Lord in Holy Communion. In 2004, responding to the problem of Eucharistic profanation, the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments released an official instruction entitled REDEMPTIONIS SACRAMENTUM: On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist.

Regarding Holy Communion, the document states:

“[S]pecial care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.” (Paragraph #92).

Here are just a few examples of profanation that I, Deacon Justin and our Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion see all too frequently:

  • Blessing oneself with the host before consuming it.
  • Receiving the host in the palm of the hand, contorting that same hand until the host is controlled by the fingers, then consuming it (resembling a one-handed “watch-the-coin-disappear” magic trick)
  • Popping the host into the mouth like it was a piece of popcorn.
  • Attempting to receive with only one hand. If you cannot receive in the hand, then you should receive on the tongue.
  • Attempting to receive with other items in the hands, like a Rosary, or with the sleeves of a coat or sweatshirt pulled so far down only the finger tips are showing.
  • Receiving the host with dirty hands.
  • Receiving the host with gloves on, or in a bandaged hand.
  • Receiving the host, closing the hand around it, then letting the hand fall to the side (as if carrying a suitcase) while walking away and/or blessing oneself with the other hand.
  • Walking away without consuming the host.
  • Giving the host to someone else after receiving…yes, it happens!”

Please remember that you should fast from eating food or drink, apart from water, for at least one hour before the time you actually receive Holy Communion. If you receive Holy Communion in the hand please always remember to place the Host (the Body of Christ), into your mouth before you move away from the Minister. Please come forward quietly and prepare yourself to receive Holy Communion. Please bow before receiving the Body or the Blood of Jesus as a sign of reverence. Remember to say a prayer of Thanksgiving after receiving Holy Communion when you are back in your place. Please always try and be on time for Mass. Arriving late can mean that you have not prepared adequately. You should certainly arrive before the reading of the Gospel. Please do not chew gum or eat sweets or biscuits in church. All of this will help us to remember that Holy Mass and receiving Holy Communion are the source and summit of our Catholic Faith.